A Quiet Place exceeded all expectations when it opened in 2018. John Krasinski‘s third directorial outing was a smash hit, beyond anything anyone involved could have dreamed of. Not only did it receive critical acclaim, kill at the box office, and generate Oscar buzz for Emily Blunt, it even scored an Academy Award nomination for Best Sound Editing. Of course, a sequel was then inevitable. But, could it live up to what’s come before? Well, a year after it was supposed to open, A Quiet Place Part II is here to definitively answer that question in the affirmative. The second installment is just as good as the first one, proving to be an incredibly effective and tense experience.
Interestingly, and this has nothing to do with the film, but it’s worth mentioning…this was the first screening canceled last year for me. Yes, there’s a little bit of irony in the first movie scuttled for me by the impending pandemic is the second thing I returned to cinemas for a press screening of. Go figure, right?
A Quiet Place Part II is another thrill ride with impeccable pacing and sound. The series is set apart by what they do with silence and sound, so that should go without saying. While becoming a bigger flick, it still retains an emotional quotient that makes you care about the Abbott family. Without that, this would be just another creature feature. Instead, it’s something more.
After an opening flashback sequence to the start of the devastation, we pick up directly where the last one ended. Forced to leave the farm, the surviving Abbott family must push forth into the world. Along with the newborn baby, Evelyn (Blunt), Regan (Millicent Simmonds), and Marcus (Noah Jupe) go searching for help. Of course, the creatures that hunt by sound are out there, though Regan’s hearing aid now provides them a weapon. Still, danger lurks at every turn, making their chances of survival rather slim.
Venturing out, the family runs into Emmett (Cillian Murphy) a former friend of the late Lee (Krasinski). Dealing with his own grief, he’s reluctant to help the Abbotts, but eventually softens. He’ll be needed, too, since Regan has a bold plan to give humanity some hope. Emmett is skeptical, not just because of the creatures, but also because he knows what has become of some of the other survivors. As he sets out on the mission with Regan, Evelyn and Marcus stay back, fighting off more monsters. Can they all survive? Will it even be worth it if they do?
This is very much Millicent Simmonds’ movie. Her elevation to the full-on hero of this franchise is well earned. Her grief, as well as her determination to try and save the day, is palpable. Simmonds really does impress here. In an interesting twist, Noah Jupe is almost the damsel in distress, though he gets an applause worthy moment late in the game, as well. Whereas Emily Blunt was the stand-out last time, this time she’s still great, but even more of a supporting player. New addition Cillian Murphy is very good, though still in Simmonds’ shadow. The brief appearance by John Krasinski in a flashback sequence hammers home how good he was last time, as well. Supporting players here include Djimon Hounsou, who doesn’t have much to do, as well as a cameo from Scoot McNairy.
John Krasinski continues to demonstrate a phenomenal handle on what makes a genre flick work. A Quiet Place used sound and silence to great effect, and that’s continued here. This one manages to even feature a better score by composer Marco Beltrami. It’s impossible to watch A Quiet Place Part II and not be shaken by the sound mix. Polly Morgan‘s visuals aren’t quite as memorable as last time, but the cinematography is still very elegant. Krasinski has sole writing credit this time, and while his directing is more impressive, the way he opens up this world is pretty satisfying. There’s even a bit of The Last of Us in this one. He’s able to increase the scale in a notable way, particularly with the Day One sequence, as well as part of the climax. If there’s more to come in this world, count me in.
The Oscar chances here are slimmer than last time, but watch out for another Best Sound citation. The movie sounds great and utilizes sound brilliantly. No franchise is as mesmerizing on an auditory level as this one is. It’s an odd compliment, but considering how important sound is to genre and horror especially, it’s one they should certainly take to heart.
A Quiet Place Part II manages to take a really fantastic film and craft a worthy follow-up. Honestly, it’s the rare genre sequel that really you can’t have any complaints about. It’s well-acted/made, exciting, builds out the world, and leaves you wanting more. What more can you want? Kudos to John Krasinski and company for pulling this off. The extra year’s wait, while unfortunate, was more than worth it.